The Fiery Cross: The Forgotten History of the Ku Klux Klan in Western New York

When one thinks of fraternal societies, what comes to mind? The Knights of Columbus? The Masons? The Loyal Order of Moose? How about the Ku Klux Klan?

Most citizens in Western New York today denounce the Klan and all it stands for, but there was a time within the lifetimes of our grandparents and great-grandparents when the Klan was active in many communities in Monroe and surrounding counties.

The Ku Klux Klan formed after the Civil War to resist Federal efforts to remake the South, and to defy the empowerment of newly freed African American slaves. The modern Klan owes its existence to the efforts of William Joseph Simmons (May 6, 1880-May 18,1945).

In 1915, Simmons obtained a copy of the Reconstruction-era Klan Rescript, the original constitution of the post-Civil War Klan. He refounded the group with a broader vision– opposing the rising influence of Catholics, Jews and immigrants, as well as African Americans. Under Simmons, the Klan’s motto was “100% Americanism,” meaning that the nation was for white, Protestant and native-born citizens only.


“20 Questions Asked of Potential Klan Recruits”
(From: Democrat and Chronicle, December 12, 1922).
Questions included: Are you a member of the White race or Colored race?
Do you believe in White supremacy?

Through the efforts of Simmons and two professional organizers, Edward Young Clarke and Elizabeth Tyler, the Klan expanded throughout the South, the Midwest, the Southwest, and the West Coast in the 1920s.

It was during this period of rapid Klan expansion that the Klan entered Western New York. An organizational meeting was held on December 11, 1922 at the Knights of Malta Hall at 89 East Main Street in downtown Rochester. Another recruiting rally was held the following year on November 22, 1923, in the original Reynolds Arcade building. A reporter who attended the latter event heard an organizer rant about the “Catholic-Jewish menace.”

Despite recruiting rallies being held in Rochester, the group never caught on in the city. According to former City Historian Blake McKelvey, there was little resentment upon which the Klan could build. Relatively few African Americans resided in the city in the 1920s, and relations between Jews, Catholics and Protestants were copacetic.

Klan activity did exist, however, in the surrounding towns and rural districts.


Ku Klux Klan Guards at the East Rochester “Konvocation,” September 1926
(From: Democrat and Chronicle, April 11, 1965)

Villagers in Nunda witnessed the first fiery cross in Livingston County on July 8, 1923. In the fall of that year, there were Klan activities in Henrietta and Hemlock. In 1925, when Father Daniel O’Rourke arrived to take over the pastorate of the Church of the Epiphany in Sodus, he was greeted by a cross burning across the street from the rectory.

There were Klan activities in Penn Yan in 1926, and in Geneva and Corning the following year. There are also records of KKK activities in Albion, Brockport, Fairport, Henrietta, Honeoye Falls, Ovid, Penfield, Pittsford, Webster, and other nearby communities.

The largest local Klan rally was held on September 25-26, 1926 in East Rochester. Klansmen and women from ten counties flocked in full regalia to the farm of Charles Ott (September 1, 1870-June 16, 1963) at Washington and Ivy Streets. Exactly how many attended is a matter of dispute. Estimates run the gamut from 1,000 to 19,000, but no official total was ever provided.

kk_ott certificate

Klan Certificate of Charles Ott, on whose farm the 1926 East Rochester gathering was held

Although there were Klan rallies and gatherings throughout the area, they did not have the support of a majority of the populace. There was as visceral a reaction to the Klan then as there is now.

In Monroe County, local fraternal groups indicated they would expel any members who belonged to the Klan. In Watkins Glen, parade participants were pulled from the line of march and beaten by local townspeople. During a KKK march in Geneva, several members removed their masks. One person who did so was a prominent insurance man, who was recognized by his neighbors. His business was subsequently boycotted, and he was forced into bankruptcy. Klansmen who revealed their prejudices to their neighbors frequently suffered the consequences.

How strong was the Klan in Monroe County? If available evidence is any indication, not very. In 1953, an anonymous donor left a small black book as a gift for local journalist, Arch Merrill. The book was the financial record of the “Headquarters Klan 385, Realm of New York” (i.e., for the Monroe County Klan) for part of the years 1926 and 1927. The largest balance on hand at any one time was $55.00. The last item in the record (July 1, 1927) records a balance of 94 cents!

As the book recorded the activities of Klan groups in Brockport, East Rochester, Fairport, Honeoye Falls, and Pittsford during the time of the East Rochester gathering, Monroe County support for the event must have been minimal, suggesting that most of the 1926 East Rochester attendees came from outside the area.


Klan members Charles A. Holland (Ulster County, left) and John Anthony Ficcaro (Rochester, right)
(From: Upstate Magazine, Democrat and Chronicle, September 25, 1977)

From its high point in 1926, the local Klan began to decline, but there was still a presence locally as late as 1977 when a reporter for the Democrat and Chronicle interviewed two New York Klansmen and identified them by name: Charles Arthur Holland and John Anthony Ficcarro. Holland was from Ulster County and Ficcaro from Rochester. They admitted that the first duty of a Klansman was to recruit others as the organization had retained very few members.

Given the secretive nature of the Klan, no one knows for sure how many members of the group still survive in the area 40 years later.

-Christopher Brennan

For More Information:

Bill Beeney, “Supporters of Klan: They Were Here!” Democrat and Chronicle, 26 March 1964, p.12B, cols. 1-2.

“Colorful Scene Presented as 8,000 Klansmen Gather in East Rochester Field,” Democrat and Chronicle, 26 September 1926, p. 25.

“I.R. Hignett, Grand Organizer of Atlanta, Harangues Audience in Hiokatoo Hall for Over Two Hours: 50 Apply for Membership,” Times Union, 23 November 1923, p. 1.

Linda Gordon, The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 2017).

Larry King, “Recruiting Klansmen: The KKK is Still Going but Not Strong,” Democrat and Chronicle, Upstate Magazine, 25 September 1977, pp. 26 and 29.

Robert F. McNamara, The Diocese of Rochester, 1868-1968 (Rochester, New York: The Diocese, 1968).

Rory McVeigh, The Rise of the Ku Klux Klan: Right-Wing Movements and National Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009).

Arch Merrill, “Venomous Black Book Tells: When Men Hid Faces Behind Masks of KKK,” Democrat and Chronicle, 31 May 1953, p. 2C.

Arch Merrill, “Klan Here (in 20s) Didn’t Last,” Democrat and Chronicle, 11 April 1965, p. 18W.

Justin Murphy, “White Supremacy Has a History in Rochester,” Democrat and Chronicle, 18 August 2017, p. 6A.

Louis Providence, “Village Looks Back on 1926 KKK Parade,” East Rochester Post-Herald, 30 September 1971, p. 9.


Published in: on May 17, 2019 at 3:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

From Liquors to Bitters-The History of the Fee Brothers, Pt. 1

If you’ve ever scanned the bottles behind your favorite local bar, chances are you’ve come across the name “Fee Brothers.”


Photo: Daniel J. Deutsch

The 155-year-old Rochester-based company has earned international renown for its line of non-alcoholic products (bitters, cordials, and mixers), but its origins lie with liquor.

The original Fee Brothers were the sons of Owen and Margaret Fee, Irish immigrants who settled in Rochester in the 1830s. Owen had worked as a butcher prior to his untimely death in 1855, leaving Margaret to support the couple’s five children.

Eldest son James Fee, who had been working since he was a boy, was quick to help out his mother. For a time, he sold sandwiches to train passengers coming through Rochester’s railroad station. He also held a job with James McMannis, a local grocer and liquor dealer who ran a shop at the southwest corner of South St Paul (now South Ave) and Main Streets.


From: City of Rochester Directory, 1861.

The young man excelled in the business, and, joined by his mother and brothers Owen and John Fee (Stephen Colbert’s great-grandfather), assumed ownership of the store in 1864 when McMannis moved to a new location.

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From: City of Rochester Directory, 1870.

Fee shifted from his multi-pronged grocery business (which for a time included a saloon and cigar manufacturing) to focus solely on liquor the following decade.

fee_1875 ad

From: City of Rochester Directory, 1875

In 1874, James and his brothers, Owen, John and Joseph moved to 26-32 North Water Street, then four years later relocated to a sizeable structure directly across the street.

There, the Fee Brothers dominated the import game, stocking British gins, Jamaican rums, Irish and Scottish whiskies, and the finest wines and cognacs from Continental Europe. The Fees also became the local distilling agents for major Pennsylvania and Kentucky firms, offering colorfully-named products like Mountain Dew Rye and Blue Grass Bourbon.

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The Fee Brothers building stood on the west side of North Water Street, above Main Street. From: City of Rochester Plat map, 1900.

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The Rochester Riverside Hotel (formerly the Radisson) now stands on the former site of the Fee Building. From: City of Rochester Map, 2019.

The family business, which rebranded itself as Fee Brothers in 1883, boasted that their six-story headquarters at 21-27 North Water Street was “The Largest Wine and Liquor House in America.”

fee_1899 ad

From: City of Rochester Directory, 1899

Having such an immense facility allowed the brothers to expand their rectifying efforts. Using grapes from their Genesee Valley Vineyard and Winery, they blended and bottled wine in the basement of the building, and stored it in their sub-basement cellar.

While the Fee Brothers’ wine wares proved a boon for business, the wine cellar itself became a source of misfortune.

Shortly before 8 p.m. on June 19, 1903, a fire broke out at the Fee Building. Originating in the well-stocked wine cellar, the flames rose through the basement and the ground floor where the bulk of the company’s barreled whiskey and bottled liquors lay. The first floor then crashed into the basement, taking with it a cascade of potent potables.

Fee_Fire 1_DC_Jun_20__1903_

From: Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, June 20, 1903.

Dense smoke swarmed through the blocks surrounding the burning building, overcoming a number of firemen in its wake. By the time the firefighters managed to quell the conflagration, the Fee Brothers were left with over 85,000 dollars in damages and a temporarily uninhabitable storefront.

The company survived the disaster only to be hit with another massive fire five years later in February 1908. This time beginning on the building’s top floor (then occupied by a paper box company), the fire wound its way down to the ground level, destroying the entire edifice in the process.

Fee Fire 2_DC__Feb_6__1908_

From Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, February 6, 1908.

The conflagration caused a quarter of a million dollars-worth of losses, but the Fee Brothers miraculously managed to salvage much of the liquor stock housed in their two basements.

Removing and relocating the bottles and barrels to a warehouse on South Water Street nevertheless proved a tricky task requiring close supervision. One of the hired hands brazenly attempted to pocket a bottle of whiskey and was swiftly arrested and carted off to the 2nd Precinct Station. The next worker caught in the act promptly dropped the pilfered bottle to avoid penalization.

Though the Fee Brothers rebuilt their headquarters on the site of their ill-fated edifice in 1908, the wholesale liquor company would encounter a setback of a different sort the following decade.

To be continued…

-Emily Morry

Published in: on April 22, 2019 at 4:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

(Summerville) Beach Boy- The Rochester Roots of Al Jardine

The Rochester Music Hall of Fame, which will induct its ‘Class of 2019’ on April 28th, has honored a host of artists whose names are seemingly synonymous with the Flower City, as well as a number of entertainers whose connections to the area are not as readily apparent.

When the organization announced this year’s inductees in February, many locals may have been surprised to see the name Al Jardine on the list.

Jardine_postcard from california

Jardine’s debut solo album, 2010.

Jardine’s band, The Beach Boys, is perhaps as linked with California in the popular imagination as Hollywood and the Pacific Ocean. But before Al Jardine struck fame and fortune on the West Coast, the guitarist spent a few memorable years in Western New York.

Al Jardine was born in 1942 in Lima, Ohio to Virginia and Donald Jardine, a commercial photographer with the Lima Locomotive Works. Donald’s background helped land him a job with Eastman Kodak in 1949, leading the family to move to Rochester when Al was seven years old.

Jardine RIT_1950

Donald C. Jardine. From: Techmila.

Donald soon after joined the faculty of the Rochester Institute of Technology, initially teaching general education classes in industrial organization, English and cost estimating.


Headline announcing Donald Jardine et al’s appointment to R.I.T. Faculty. From: Democrat & Chronicle, September 4, 1949.

Known on campus as “Choo Choo” due to his love of locomotives, Donald Jardine went on to teach in the Photo Technology and Publishing & Printing departments, where he spearheaded the creation of a combination darkroom-cameraroom and designed the first industrial photography course ever offered at the college.


Donald “Choo Choo” Jardine at work. From: Techmila.

The Jardine family initially settled in a little pad on Sunset Street in the 24th Ward, before purchasing a home on Parkview Terrace in the idyllic Summerville Terraces tract of Irondequoit in 1950.

Developed in the 1920s on the site of the old Charles Salmon farm, Summerville Terraces  offered home buyers an enviable location at the juncture of the Genesee River and Lake Ontario.

Jardine_DC__May_7__1922_ tract

Map of the Summerville Terraces tract. From: Democrat & Chronicle, May 7, 1922.

An advertisement from May of 1922 boasted, “The view of the hills and the lake will appeal to your sense of the beautiful. The situation of Summerville Terraces, in the heart of the Summerville district, will convince you of the desirability of these sites as an investment… it is close in, at the edge of the most desirable part of the lake shore, and lots are rapidly being picked up. Get yours.”


Another advertisement showcasing Summerville’s merits. From: Democrat & Chronicle, May 28, 1922.

The subdivision’s unique offer of “lakeside privileges and city conveniences,” still held appeal when the Jardines purchased their Parkview Terrace home three decades after the Summerville lots first went on the market.

summerville map_2_irondequoit_1959

The fully developed Summerville Terraces subdivision  in 1959. From: Plat Book including Towns of Irondequoit and Brighton, Monroe Co., New York, 1959.

The locale’s lifestyle certainly appealed to young Al Jardine, who frequently played on the nearby beach and beat the heat by swimming in the cool, cool water of Lake Ontario.

“I had some great summers on Lake Ontario when I was 7 or 8,” he informed the Democrat & Chronicle in 1986, “but those winters—oooh, they were nasty.”

Al likely passed some of the time during those long nasty winters plucking away at the ukulele that his parents purchased him in Rochester, amassing skills that he could later transfer to the guitar. His musical inclinations also led him to learn the clarinet–his grandfather’s instrument–and join his elementary school orchestra, but his interest in the woodwind soon waned.

Whether or not these early local forays in musicianship proved formative to Jardine’s future as a rock & roll star, he later claimed that he “spent the best part of my young life” in Rochester and that the Summerville neighborhood “was the most beautiful place I’ve ever lived.”

Although Al’s beachside boyhood home was ideal, his father’s job at R.I.T. must have left something to be desired, as he took a position with a San Francisco-based company in 1952 and the family left Summerville for the even sunnier climes of California.

Jardine-west coast move

Headline from R.I.T. Reporter, June 6, 1952.

Three years later, the family moved to Hawthorne, California where a teenaged Al Jardine would meet fellow football player and aspiring musician, Brian Wilson.

And the rest, as they say…

IMG_2404 (1)

Al Jardine, furthest to the right, on the cover of one of the greatest albums ever recorded.


-Emily Morry



Published in: on April 4, 2019 at 5:30 pm  Comments (5)  

Out of the Loop Pt. 5: A Before and After Look at the Neighborhoods of the Inner Loop

The last section of the Inner Loop, completed in 1965, is perhaps the most intriguing to current Rochester residents, as, for the most part, it no longer exists.

The final loop arc originally ran from Scio Street to the intersection of Union Street and George Street.

IL_5_aerial loop_DC_Sep_30__65

The original path of the Inner Loop’s last arc. From: Democrat & Chronicle, September 30, 1965.

Today, it concludes its course just past Main Street thanks to the Inner Loop East Transformation Project, which filled in two thirds of a mile of the sunken roadway and replaced it with an at-grade Union Street in 2017.

IL_5_aerial loop_post fill

City of Rochester Map, 2019.

The filled-in loop section has already begun to transform the landscape of the East End neighborhood. The area’s metamorphosis will continue as Union Street’s built environment develops.

IL_5_union and east__Mar_20__1964_

Construction on the Union Street section of the loop at its intersection with East Avenue. From: Democrat and Chronicle, March 20, 1964.

IL_5_union and east

The same section, filled in. From: Googlemaps, 2019.

IL_5_union and east northward__Nov_21__1962_

The intersection of Union Street and East Avenue facing north circa 1962. The diagonal street below East Avenue is the original route of Court Street. From: Democrat & Chronicle, November 21, 1962.

IL_5_union and east northward_2012_april

Union Street at East Avenue in 2012, with the adjacent sunken loop. From: Googlemaps, 2012.


The same stretch in 2019 boasts a tree-lined median, designated bike lanes, pedestrian paths, and budding buildings. From: Morry, 2019.

Though the majority of the loop’s final section has been reincarnated, what remains of the last arc offers further reminders of all that was lost as a result of the circular thoroughfare.

Anderson Park— named for the University of Rochester’s first president, Martin Brewer Anderson—originally comprised a somewhat sizeable triangular piece of land bordered by University Avenue, East Main Street and North Union Street.

Screen Shot 2019-03-27 at 12.07.42 PM

Anderson Park, bordered by Main Street on the northwest side, Union Street on the east side, and University Avenue on the south side. City of Rochester Plat Map, 1910.

Opened in 1905, the pastoral greenspace for a time housed a skating rink, and, in 1913, hosted a colossal Christmas tree adorned with hundreds of colored incandescent lights.

IL_5_anderson park xmas tree 1913-ish

Hundreds gathered for a Christmas celebration at Anderson Park in December 1913. From: Albert R. Stone Negative Collection, Rochester Museum & Science Center, Rochester, N.Y.

The park was also the first home of the Schiller monument.

IL_5_schiller in anderson park

The Schiller monument at the southwest corner of Anderson Park in 1938.

Donated by Rochester’s German community in 1908, the statue of the 18th century poet and philosopher later became something of a mecca to the city’s teenaged lovebirds. Scores of Cupid-struck couples in the 1950s deemed the monument’s pedestal as the place to pledge their love to one other via inscriptions of their initials, often emblazoned with red lipstick.

The monument and its lipstick traces met their match the following decade, as plans for the Inner Loop designated the southern tier of Anderson Park as the juncture where the circular roadway would make its final curve towards Union Street.

Anderson Park, much like Franklin Square (discussed in part 4 of this series), was more than halved.

Il_5_anderson park_then

The somewhat sizeable Anderson Park in 1935. City of Rochester Plat Map, 1935.

Il_5_anderson park_now

The truncated tuft of greenery that constitutes the current Anderson Park. City of Rochester map, 2019.

And, in something of a game of monument musical chairs, after Franklin Square’s Spanish American War eagle was relocated to the Community War Memorial, the Schiller monument was removed from Anderson Park, and placed in Franklin Square (now known as Schiller Park).

IL_5_schiller removal__Apr_21__1964_

Schiller on the move in the spring of 1964. From: Democrat & Chronicle, April 21, 1964.

IL_5_schiller in franklin

The monument at home in its eponymous park.

In addition to gutting yet another downtown park, the loop’s final segment was also responsible for swallowing a host of homes and apartment buildings, often erasing entire street sections in the process.

The mixed-use neighborhood between North Street and Union Street found itself radically altered following the Loop’s arrival.

Seen in 1935, the area between North Street and Scio Street, boasts a series of densely plotted residences and a selection of commercial structures:

Il_5_north to scio_then

City of Rochester Plat Map, 1935.

Il_5_north to scio_now

City of Rochester map, 2019.

The post-loop picture is much starker. The buildings lining both sides of Delevan Street, the south side of Lyndhurst Street, and the west side of Scio Street are gone as are sections of Gibbs Street and the entirety of Barber’s Lane.

The next block over also witnessed a considerable transformation:

Il_5_joslyn place_then

City of Rochester Plat Map, 1935.

Il_5_joslyn place_now

City of Rochester map, 2019.

The most striking difference between these pre- and post-loop pictures, apart from the substantial loss of buildings, is the elimination of an entire street, Joslyn Place.

Some of the street’s denizens did not face its demise without a fight.

Mrs. George R. Woods had been living in an apartment at 72 Joslyn Place with her teenage son and dog when she received the news that her building would be demolished in 1962. In January of that year, her landlord stopped collecting rent, and two months later, the building’s utilities were removed.

By this time, all of the apartments at 72 Joslyn Place had been vacated. All except the one occupied by Mrs. Woods. She and her son kept themselves warm in the frigid flat by donning their wooliest clothing. The pair lit candles in lieu of electric lights, and, when in need of water, they availed themselves of the nearest fire hydrant.

When the landlord or state agents stopped by, Woods came armed with an array of excuses, reinforcing that all her belongings were packed and that she was only waiting for a moving truck.

A sheaf of paper notes remained permanently affixed to her door. One warned: “Leave my things alone until I get moved tomorrow afternoon or I will turn my dog loose. I need my things. Can’t buy more.” Another missive, directed to her postman, informed: “Don’t believe I’ve moved away. I’m still here. Mrs. Woods.”

Woods’ standoff continued even after all the other structures on the street had been demolished and her building became the target of routine rock-throwing by neighborhood children. She eventually retreated in the middle of May 1962, when two movers struck a deal with her and transported her affairs to a new abode on Maple Street.

While Woods’ experience presents an extreme example, her frustration over losing her home was nevertheless mirrored by thousands of Rochesterians whose lives were uprooted as result of the Inner Loop.

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A home being leveled for the loop in 1962. From: Democrat & Chronicle, May 11, 1962.

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In “progress.”

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Demolished. All in fifteen minutes’ time.

The extensive damage and displacement that the Inner Loop caused was deemed by its proponents as the price of progress.

The new time-saving thoroughfare thrilled many in Rochester’s business community.

Chamber of Commerce president Byron Johnson exclaimed at the Inner Loop’s official opening on October 20, 1965, “Without businessmen willing to support it, this Inner Loop might have become a useless noose around a deserted central area.”

Seemingly sharing Johnson’s flair for the dramatic, Rochester District Engineer Bernard F. Perry proclaimed that the loop opening was, “One of the most important days in the history of Rochester and Monroe County,” adding, “We are extremely proud of this achievement, the result of long planning, intricate design and elaborate construction.”

That this long-planned, intricately designed, and elaborately constructed achievement was perhaps flawed in its inception remains a matter of debate, but convincing evidence is offered by the thriving thoroughfare that has risen above the former route of the sunken loop.

-Emily Morry




Published in: on March 27, 2019 at 5:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Out of the Loop Pt. 4: A Look at the Neighborhoods of the Inner Loop

As we saw in parts 1, 2, and 3 of this series, the construction of the first three sections of the Inner Loop required a massive amount of property demolition and resulted in the remapping of Rochester’s center city. The route’s fourth segment, completed in 1962, proved even more destructive than its forbears.

The .9 mile arc more or less ran along the original route of Cumberland Street, beginning at Front Street on the City’s west side and ending at North Street on the east.


“A” marks the fourth leg of the loop. From: Democrat & Chronicle, August 20, 1958.

As the route cut through a densely populated, mixed-use area, it necessitated a considerable amount of property razing. More than 250 residential and commercial buildings were toppled to make way for the new loop segment.

In the spring of 1957, four blocks worth of businesses near the New York Central Railroad Station met the wrecking ball.

Not everyone was sad to see the aging structures go.

A pro-loop editorial published in the Democrat & Chronicle that November referred to the razed edifices as “architectural monstrosities and crumbling flea bags.”


The Post Office is at the center of this circa 1960 aerial photograph depicting the dramatic demolition done in the name of the Inner Loop. The New York Central Railroad Station is at top right.  From: Democrat & Chronicle, July 26, 1960.

Among the bygone buildings in the train station neighborhood was the Railroad YMCA at 9 Hyde Park Street, a short road that once stood on the west side of the central Post Office (visible in the photo above).

The original Railroad YMCA branch was founded in the early 1900s to cater to transient railroad workers, offering them room, board, and entertainment. But by the time the branch moved into the Hyde Park structure in 1932, train crews had begun to bypass Rochester, and the institution’s import started to fade.

In 1955, the location ceased functioning as the headquarters for railroad men and was converted into a boarding house. Two longtime railroad worker residents refused to relocate, and remained tenants of the timeworn hostelry until its demolition in the fall of 1957.


The last location of the Railroad YMCA at 9 Hyde Park Street. From: Democrat & Chronicle, March 24, 1957.


Demolition of the YMCA as seen from the rear of the building. From: Democrat & Chronicle October 25, 1957.


The current site of the Railroad YMCA near Joseph Avenue in the vicinity of the New York Trailways station. Googlemaps, 2018.

Not far from the Railroad YMCA stood another longtime neighborhood institution, The Hotel Gilliard.

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The Hotel Gilliard, later the Saeger Hotel, stood at 218 Clinton Avenue North. City of Rochester Plat Map, 1935.

The establishment at the northeast corner of Clinton Ave North and Cumberland Street was founded in 1886 by Valentine Gilliard, a German immigrant who had previously worked in a number of local saloons. His three story hostelry boasted 20 rooms in addition to the tavern on its main floor.


Hotel Gilliard circa 1916. From: The Albert R. Stone Negative Collection, Rochester Museum & Science Center, Rochester, N.Y.

Valentine Gilliard ran the family business until he took ill in 1893, and, in a bout of apparent insanity brought on by his physical suffering, tragically shot himself on the roof of the hotel.

The Gilliards later sold the inn, but it retained the family name through the Prohibition era, during which the hotel endured several raids by dry agents. The hotel continued operations till the State claimed it in 1957.


The Hotel Gilliard appears on the right side of the street on the far side of the intersection pictured in this circa 1890 photograph.


The site today. Googlemaps, 2019.

Following the decimation of the railroad station neighborhood, a host of businesses and residences on St. Paul Street and Water Street met their fate.

Some did not go gently into the good night, however.

The Joseph A. Schantz Furniture Company had maintained two sizeable edifices at the intersection of St. Paul Street and Central Avenue since 1911. An eponymously named commercial building stood on the east side of St. Paul Street, while the company’s six-story furniture warehouse, stood on the west side.


The Schantz company owned two buildings that faced each other on St. Paul Street at Central Avenue. Note the original location of the Frederick Douglass monument between the Schantz structures. City of Rochester Plat Map, 1935.

The former came down fairly handily.


The Schantz Building stands on the left side of this photograph from October 1958. From the Collection of the Rochester Public Library’s Local History & Genealogy Division.


The same site from a slightly different angle in 1960, sans Schantz Building. From the Collection of the Rochester Public Library’s Local History & Genealogy Division.

The warehouse was more stubborn.

Neither cranes nor steel balls proved able to destroy the edifice. Construction workers were eventually reduced to using torches to slash the building’s reinforcing rods, before cranes could be brought in to rip out the rubbled pieces.

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The Schantz warehouse building lies behind the Douglass monument in this circa 1941 photograph.

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The approximate site of the Schantz warehouse today lies at the corner of St. Paul and the rerouted Cumberland Street. Googlemaps, 2019

In addition to the hundreds of buildings it consumed in its wake, the loop’s fourth section was also responsible for gutting one of the city’s oldest parks.

Franklin Square (now known as Schiller Park) located between Cumberland and Andrews Streets, was opened to the public in 1826.

IL_4_1833 map_franklin square

Franklin Square circa 1833. NB: Cumberland Street was formerly called Bowery Street. City of Rochester Map, 1833.

In addition to providing 19th century downtown residents with a pastoral setting in which to unwind, the small park hosted amateur baseball club games in the 1850s and 1860s and later served as the site of numerous political demonstrations.

The following century, Franklin Square became home to the city’s Spanish-American War Memorial, a bronze eagle designed by noted sculptor, Carl Paul Jennewein.


The regal eagle standing atop a reflecting pool at the northern end of Franklin Square. Note the Post Office and St. Luke’s Church in the background.   From: Democrat & Chronicle, July 6, 1941.

In 1960, less than twenty years after the bronze eagle landed in Franklin Square, the northern half of the historic park was lobbed off to make way for the loop, and the Spanish-American eagle took flight.

IL4_post-franklin square

The site today. Googlemaps, 2018.

Franklin Square was decimated.

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The original layout of Franklin Square seen in the late 1940s. From: Democrat & Chronicle, January 4, 1948.


The stub of the square that remains post-loop, now called Schiller Park. Googlemaps, 2018.

The eagle fortunately found a new perch beside the Community War Memorial (now Blue Cross Arena).


From: Democrat & Chronicle, August 18, 1960.


The eagle in its current home beside the Blue Cross Arena. From: Morry.

After almost three years worth of demolition carried out in its name, construction on the loop’s fourth arc finally began in March 1960.

Despite the extensive destruction that the new route had wrought, many maintained that the Inner Loop offered a path to progress. As one Democrat & Chronicle writer opined in March 1961: “We look at the loop now—the finished part of it—and we use it with the realization that Rochester would be literally choking to death on traffic without it. Every day the genius of this loop concept becomes more apparent.”


The next post in this series will detail the changes brought about by the loop’s fifth and final segment.

-Emily Morry





Published in: on February 26, 2019 at 9:45 am  Leave a Comment  

“The Doctor Who Would Come”: Anthony Leopold Jordan (18 September 1896-19 December 1971)

Heading east on Route 104, between Greece and Irondequoit, off to the right at 800 Carter Street, one can see a health care facility. Now called the Joseph C. Wilson Health Center, for several years in the early 2000s it was named the Anthony L. Jordan Health Center, the second such facility before Jordan Health expanded to incorporate the multiple locations it operates in Rochester and Canandaigua. According to its website, the mission of Jordan Health is “steeped in service to underserved and uninsured residents, meeting their need for comprehensive health services.” But who was Anthony Jordan? Why was the health center named after him and what contributions did he make to the Rochester area?


Dr. Anthony L. Jordan (Democrat & Chronicle, March 26, 1967)

Anthony Leopold Jordan was born on September 18th, 1896 in Georgetown, Guyana, where he attended Queen’s College. It is said that following graduation he taught at the college for some time, but a desire to receive training as a lawyer encouraged him to emigrate. He arrived in the United States on June 27th 1919, having sailed to Miami via Havana, Cuba.

Shortly thereafter, he enrolled at Howard University, a Historically Black College in the nation’s capital. His legal training was cut short, however, when he was informed that law was not a “Black man’s career,” and that Black lawyers often had few clients. Seeking a more lucrative profession, Jordan changed his focus to medicine.

Graduating from Howard in 1926, he pursued a medical internship at Richardson Memorial Hospital in Greensboro (Guilford County), North Carolina and later established his practice at High Point in the same county. The family was not happy with the climate there (perhaps racially as well as meteorologically), and so they moved north. They first settled in Newburgh (Orange County), New York, and later relocated to Rochester in 1932.

Setting up a solo practice at the height of the Great Depression was perhaps not the wisest approach for a young and struggling physician. Establishing himself at 136 Adams Street (in Corn Hill, Rochester’s renowned Third Ward), he soon found that much of his business came from the city’s Seventh Ward, a multicultural area in northeast Rochester including  North Clinton, Joseph and Hudson Avenues. Then as now, the neighborhood was largely working class and poor, and though many doctors would not serve its population, Dr. Jordan did. He was known as “the doctor who would come,” when and where he was needed. He continued to make house calls (though many of his colleagues didn’t) until the end of his life when his failing eyesight forced him to stop practicing medicine.

anthony jordan_map3

Portion of the 7th Ward, focus of Dr. Jordan’s practice.

Even before Dr. Jordan was financially stable, he offered his services free of charge to patients in need. He spent many Sunday afternoons giving free examinations to college students and to children going to summer camp. Later in life, he not only provided free medical services to his more indigent patients, but he would also dip into his own pocket for them.

After the establishment of Medicaid in the 1960s, his devotion to the underserved in Rochester was rewarded as he became one of the physicians paid by the county to treat individuals receiving government assistance. He was also honored with a Presidential Citation from the New York State Medical Society for outstanding service.

Dr. Jordan was as committed to education as he was to medicine. He was an active supporter of the United Negro College Fund, which provides funding to Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He was also a major financial backer of the Ralph Bunche Scholarship, established by the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The scholarship provided financial assistance for inner-city youth to attend college, regardless of race, color, ethnicity or gender.

Jordan supported additional uplift efforts through his involvement with the NAACP. Throughout the 1950s, he and other members of the organization worked for greater minority hiring in the city. One of his principal concerns was the lack of African American officers on the Rochester police force. He was also a big proponent of young Black professionals in various fields, serving as a mentor to help them establish a foothold in the local economy.

Dr. Jordan is said to have been a member of half a dozen different community organizations. The only thing that eventually managed to slow him down was his failing health. Two months before his death, he entered Genesee Hospital for cancer surgery. Upon release, he was transferred to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City for cobalt treatments. He was never discharged. He died from his ailment on December 19, 1971 at age 75. Today, his mortal remains are buried at Mount Hope Cemetery.

The year after Dr. Jordan’s death, the People’s Health Council, upon a motion of board member David Gantt, unanimously agreed to name the new health center on Holland Street in his honor.


Anthony L. Jordan Health Center at 82 Holland Street.

-Christopher Brennan

For More Information:

“About Us,” Jordan Health ( : accessed 6 January 2019).

“Dr. Anthony Jordan,” [obituary], Democrat and Chronicle, 20 December 1971, p. 3B.

Hamm, Mrs. James H., [Letter to the editor], Democrat and Chronicle, 2 January 1972, Section F, p. 3.

Neighborhood and Its Health Care: Annual Report of the Anthony L. Jordan Health Center (Rochester, New York : The Center, 1972).

“Today’s Bouquet,” Democrat and Chronicle, 17 February 1965, p. 8.

United States Naturalization Service, Declaration of Intent, no. 143915 (1919), Anthony Jeopold [sic] Jordan; digital image, ( : accessed 6 January 1919).


Published in: on February 7, 2019 at 10:00 am  Comments (1)  

Down on the Corner: Taverns and Transformations in the Bull’s Head Neighborhood

bulls head_plaza now

Bull’s Head Plaza (Googlemaps, 2019)

Bull’s Head Plaza, which has stood on the southeast corner of West Main and Genesee Streets since the early 1950s, will soon undergo a transformation as part of an Urban Renewal plan designed to revitalize one of Rochester’s oldest neighborhoods.

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The Plaza and the surrounding Bull’s Head neighborhood. City of Rochester Map, 2019

The Plaza has been a fixture in the area for over half a century, but the corner on which it stands is no stranger to change, having experienced a number of metamorphoses over the past 200 years, going back to when it housed the very tavern that gave the Bull’s Head neighborhood its name.

According to the 19th century reminiscences of Rochester resident George W. Fisher, “In the early settlement of the country before Rochester was a village, an old wood building stood at the intersection of Genesee Street and Buffalo Road, kept as a country tavern. Suspended from a post on the road side hung the ponderous tavern sign, lettered on both sides ‘Bull’s Head Tavern.’”

Sources vary on the tavern’s establishment date, but it was likely erected sometime between 1808 and 1813, when Buffalo Street (now West Main Street) was a crude, forest-enveloped stage road leading westward to Batavia and points beyond. Genesee Street and  Brown Street, also well traveled thoroughfares at the time, provided passage to developing settlements to the north and south.

The Bull’s Head Tavern thus became a popular stopping point for travelers heading to and from Rochester, and served as the namesake of the nascent neighborhood surrounding the crossroads.

The advantageous location was not lost on Derrick Sibley and Joseph Field, two settlers from New England, who envisioned the hub as a bustling cattle market on Rochester’s outskirts, akin to the Brighton Market just outside of Boston. In 1827, the pair purchased several acres of property at the tavern site and replaced the old wooden frame building with a three-story stone structure.

bulls head-tavern drawing

A sketch of the stone version of the Bull’s Head Tavern (From: Bull’s Head Economy-Aide, February 6, 1936, Vol. 1, No.2)

Legend has it that a salt-laden spring in the area was reserved for bovines bound for Rochester, and that the quadrupeds were encouraged to drink from it handsomely, thus inflating their weight (and value) by the time they reached the market scales.

Though the enterprise attracted additional settlers to the Bull’s Head neighborhood, the cattle market did not prove successful, and by 1831, Sibley and Field had decided to pursue other ventures (Field went on to become Mayor of Rochester in 1848).

bulls head_1831 ad

From: Rochester Republican, May 10, 1831.

The tavern didn’t stay on the market long. In 1832, new proprietor John Masury posted an advertisement painting the Bull’s Head Tavern as an idyllic getaway for Rochester residents and passers through alike. The ad boasted:

“This establishment has lately been fitted up as a pleasant retreat from the noise and bustle of business—about one mile from the center of attraction—on the Buffalo Road. It is hoped that the present occupant will receive encouragement suitable to his exertions.”

The stone building would go on to house a different kind of retreat the following decade, when it was purchased by Dr. Hatfield Halsted.

Halsted, who billed himself as a “Magnetic Physician,” had previously operated a drug store on Buffalo Street for a number of years, where he sold “electric pills” and three different varieties of “Magnetic Ether.” In 1844, Dr. Halsted purchased the tavern property with the intent to transform it into a “Motorpathic Institute and Water Cure,” taking advantage of the nearby sulphur spring and ample supply of rock water.

As Halsted explained in a Rochester Daily Advertiser promotional article from 1846,  “I have become convinced that I can have access to as good, and all things considered, better water at this location, for treating all kinds of disease in the most successful manner, than can be obtained in any other situation.”

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A circa July 1852 advertisement for Halsted’s practice featured in the Rochester Daily Democrat.

Halsted claimed that by combining Hydropathy (water therapy) with his “Magnetic Remedies,” he could help cure a host of ailments including gout, dyspepsia, St. Anthony’s Fire, St. Vitus’ Dance, nervous diseases and “female difficulties.”[1]

The doctor welcomed patients at Halsted Hall until 1854, after which he moved on to a new water cure practice in Northampton, Massachusetts.

bulls head_halstead hall

Bull’s Head area circa 1851, featuring Halsted Hall on the southeast corner of Buffalo (now West Main) and Genesee Streets. From: Plan of the City of Rochester, N.Y./surveyed & drawn by Marcus Smith & B. Callan. New York: M. Dripps, 1851.

The building Halsted left behind served as a quasi-medical facility once again in the 1860s, as it housed the overflow of wounded Civil War soldiers seeking care at St. Mary’s Hospital.

Following the war, the edifice was remodeled as St. Mary’s Boys’ Orphan Asylum. In 1871, a new orphanage building was constructed beside the former tavern, which was repurposed as a branch of St. Patrick’s Parochial School.

bulls head_1875 map

St Mary’s Boys’ Orphan Asylum, including the stone tavern structure on the left and the new orphanage building on the right, circa 1875. From: City of Rochester Plat Map, 1875.

The historic tavern building remained at the corner of West Main and Genesee Streets until 1909, when it was torn down to make room for the orphanage’s expansion.

bulls head_1910 map

The expanded St. Mary’s institution, along with St. Patrick’s Orphan Girls’ Asylum, in 1910. From: City of Rochester Plat Map, 1910.

The orphanage met its fate a few decades later, when it too was razed, making way for the much anticipated Bull’s Head Plaza.


-Emily Morry


[1] St. Anthony’s Fire, in addition to being a stellar potential band name, refers to poisoning by ergot, a fungus grown on rye grass. St. Vitus’ Dance, also a decent candidate for a band name, is an antiquated term for Sydenham’s Chorea, a neurological disorder characterized by rapid movements of the limbs and face. “Female Difficulties” (not recommended by this author as a band name), may have referred to any number of gynecological conditions.

Published in: on January 31, 2019 at 9:24 am  Comments (1)  

Monorail! Monorail! Monorail!

If you grew up in Rochester in the last quarter of the 20th century, there’s a good chance you took at least one ride on the monorail at Midtown Plaza.

Midtown’s monorail figures prominently in the holiday memories of many Rochesterians, but as it happens, the mall’s elevated train was not made locally, nor was it unique to Rochester.


The colorful monorail in 2007. Photographer: Ira Srole.

The first kiddie train of this kind was developed in the 1940s. Illinois-based inventor, Clinton B. Clark, got the idea for the tot-sized tram while working for a department store in Milwaukee. The company’s president expressed the desire for a train that would run above the store’s display cases, thereby conserving floor space for retail items.

Clark put his tinkering skills to work at his home in Oak Park (that’s a suburb), and in 1942, filed a patent for his overhead monorail train.

He spent the 1940s and 1950s hanging monorails from the ceilings of the toy departments of several major retailers including Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia, Sears in Chicago, and Rich’s in Atlanta. Clark claimed that his invention attracted about 100,000 riders to each store annually (and by gum, it put them on the map!).

Clark’s monorail instantly attracted Midtown Plaza’s promotional manager when he saw one on display at the convention of the International Council on Shopping Centers in 1968. As Robert M. Fender explained to the Democrat & Chronicle, “The other items displayed for promotional purposes were ice shows and puppet shows and similar items…Then I saw this monorail and just knew Midtown couldn’t go through another Christmas without it.”

Apart from being infinitely more exciting than a puppet show, the monorail bore additional advantages to retailers.

Not only did the overhead train allow stores to maximize their floor space for purchasable goods, but it also gave its little passengers a panoramic view of these same products.

Clark maintained that the monorail would attract repeat visits from children, who, in turn, would draw their pocketbook-toting parents into the store.

Construction on Midtown Plaza’s bonafide electrified monorail began in September 1968, and its last piece was put in place mere minutes before the store opened for the train’s grand debut on November 29th.


Children lining up to ride the train in 2007. Photographer: Ira Srole.

Featuring two trains of two cars each, Midtown’s monorail accommodated 32 passengers at a time, and traveled three miles an hour along a circular route above the mall’s central concourse. The elevated train became an instant fixture of the holiday season in Rochester, drawing thousands of children every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas.


The monorail gliding above the central concourse during its final season in 2007. Photographer: Ira Srole.

The ride was briefly retired in the late 1990s, but resurrected during the 2000 Christmas season.

The revival was short-lived.

The train made its final stop on Christmas Eve 2007, two months after the plans to demolish Midtown Plaza were announced. The monorail was dismantled piece by piece and placed in a storage facility, where it sat untouched for years.

During the demolition of Midtown Plaza, the City made arrangements with the New York State Office of Parks and Recreation and Historic Preservation, which allowed the City to donate the train as long as it was exhibited in a publicly accessible space and not used for profit. The City offered the artifact to a variety of local institutions, but the train had no takers until this year.

This past summer, City Council voted to send the relic railcars to the New York Museum of Transportation in Rush, NY. A car will also be on display at the Roc Holiday Village in Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park this December.

Though the monorail won’t run again–it wouldn’t meet the current electrical code–visitors can catch a glimpse of the timeworn train and relish in the memories of rides past.

-Emily Morry




Published in: on November 21, 2018 at 9:49 am  Comments (1)  

ABC: The American Brewing Company and Beer Brewing in Rochester, 1855-1950, Part 2

What does one do when the central focus of one’s manufacturing facility and very reason for being, is declared illegal? What is a businessman to do when his product has been banned outright, and if he continues to make the product, he risks going to jail? Many brewers faced this dilemma in 1917 when the Prohibition amendment was approved by Congress and passed to the states for ratification. The amendment passed in 1919 and went into effect in January 1920.

Fortunately, the officers of these firms had warning and had time to plan for an orderly transition. Some simply acquiesced to the new law and went out of business. Some, like Budweiser, refocused on the essential ingredients of their product. Anheuser-Busch sold malt extract and yeast (both legal products), which could be used to make varieties of bread. Of course, members of the public could (and did) use both products to make their own home-brewed beer!

ABC2-cider ad

Advertisement for Rochester Food Products Corporation,
Prohibition-Era Successor to the American Brewing Company
(Democrat and Chronicle, 27 October 1920)

Other companies went into business making other legal products. Rochester’s largest pre-Prohibition brewer, Bartholomay Brewing Company, was converted into a company selling dairy products (specifically milk, cream, butter and ice cream). In the case of the American Brewing Company (ABC), they diversified their manufacturing. They changed their name to the Rochester Food Products Corporation, selling malt extract (like Anheuser-Busch), as well as apple cider, vinegar, and Rochester Special “near beer,” a legal product that contained less than ½ of 1% (0.05) alcohol. Brewing of near beer meant the brewery was ideally positioned to commence brewing beer anew when restrictions were lifted in 1933.

Officially Prohibition ended  December 5, 1933 when the 21st Amendment (repealing the 18th Amendment) was ratified, but for beer manufacturers and drinkers it ended earlier. The Volstead Act (the enabling legislation of the 18th Amendment) had defined “intoxicating liquors” as having alcohol content above ½ of 1%. The act was later amended by the Harrison-Cullen Act, which stipulated that products with an alcohol content of 3.2% and below were not intoxicating. The latter act became effective on  April 7, 1933, legalizing beer sales. In recent years, the day has been celebrated as “National Beer Day.”

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Advertisement for Liberty Beer by ABC’s Elmira Distributor
Robert G. Jennings (Elmira Star-Gazette, 19 May 1933

As noted earlier, five Rochester brewers resurfaced after Prohibition. ABC was one of them. Among their many post-1933 brands were American Bock Beer, American Porter, Apollo Beer, Liberty Beer and Seneca Ale. Arguably their most famous label was Tam O’Shanter, under which a number of different varieties were produced, including Bock Beer, Dry Hopped, Extra Pale Ale, Stock Ale, and Porter.

For nearly two decades thereafter, the firm operated profitably; however, by 1950, their market share had declined. Two factors, coming close together, pushed them toward dissolution. The first was a decline in available bituminous and anthracite stocks due to a nationwide coal strike that reduced available supplies. The firm applied to the Emergency Fuel Office for additional allocations for production purposes, but was refused. The other factor was the decision of Rochester brewery workers (by a vote of 519 to 8) to join the International Union of Brewery, Flour, Cereal, Soft Drinks and Distillery Workers.

In June 1950, the American Brewing Company’s officers notified the board that a vote would be held to liquidate the business. Days later, the stockholders voted to liquidate the company’s assets. A skeleton crew remained thereafter to conclude the remaining business, but by the end of June 1950, the doors at 440 Hudson Avenue were closed forever on what was once the oldest brewery in Rochester.

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Remains of The American Brewing Company (2018)
440 Hudson Avenue.

-Christopher Brennan


For More Information:

“Brewery Bares Plan to Go Out of Business,” Democrat and Chronicle, 1 June 1950, p. 26.

“Brewery Workers Vote for Union Shop Setup,” Democrat and Chronicle, 1 April 1950, p. 12.

A History of the Brewery and Liquor Industry of Rochester, N.Y. (Rochester, New York: Kearse Publishing Company, 1907).

Skeeter McDaniels, Brewed in Rochester: A Photographic History of Beer in Rochester, New York, 1885-1975 (Rochester, New York: Mountain Air Books, 2008).

J. Gordon Meier, The Story of the Genesee Brewing Company Incorporated of Rochester, New York (Rochester, New York: Meier, 1963).

“Plant, Offices Turn Down Heat to Conserve Fuel,” Democrat and Chronicle, 2 March 1950, p. 1.

Ruth Rosenberg-Naparsteck, “A Brief History of Brewing in Rochester,” Rochester History 54, no. 2 (Spring 1992).

Ruth Rosenberg-Naparsteck, “A Brief Look at the 20th Century Through the Lens of a Camera,” Rochester History 61, nos. 3-4 (Summer-Fall 1999).

“Stockholder Vote End of Brewery,” Democrat and Chronicle, 6 June 1950, p. 21.


Published in: on November 5, 2018 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wanted: Dead or Deader

Anyone who has spent time poring through historical newspapers has likely come across an intriguing headline or two. I’ve seen a fair share of them myself, but recently I stumbled upon something in an old want ads section that is truly in a league of its own.

On August 5th, 1920, the Democrat and Chronicle published the following advertisement:


From the Democrat & Chronicle, August 5, 1920.

The eyebrow-raising ad undoubtedly also raised questions among its readers. Was it the world’s most bizarre personal ad…man/woman seeks date with a ghost? Or did the paranormal house hunter have other ideas in mind?

The peculiar post, which hailed from an unknown person, became the subject of a few newspaper articles that August. The day after the ad was published, the D&C speculated as to its writer’s motives. Staff surmised that perhaps the individual was “an author looking for atmosphere,’’ or “a person with an unbalanced mind,” or just someone “seeking to escape the platitudes of politicians.”

To help readers identify the kind of building that might house a free-floating vaporous apparition, the newspaper offered a few guidelines.

Such a house, the D&C indicated, should have creaking stairs, strong drafts emanating from all doors, and a fireplace (so that the phantasm could be seen amidst the flames). The article also suggested that “some kind of power plant should be established outside to keep the wind howling around the corners.”

Missing from the aforementioned list were additional supernatural warning signs such as self-cooking poultry products, rogue refrigerators, and generally any kind of behavior that one would not expect to see in a major appliance.


Headline from the Democrat & Chronicle, August 18, 1920.

Within the week that the want ad was published, the D&C’s business office received 20 letters to be rerouted to the “ ‘man of mystery’ seeking the haunted house.”

The “man of mystery,” as it happened, turned out to be a woman. May Francis, the operator of a boarding house on Marshall Street, identified herself to the D&C following the commotion her ad had caused.  She confessed that she was “just seeking the chills, the thrills and the ghosts of a haunted house.”

HH-marshall map

The Ghost-curious Mrs. Francis ran a boarding house at 10 Marshall Street. The building and the block on which it stood no longer exist today. City of Rochester Plat Map, 1935.

Mrs. Francis informed the paper that she had encountered a few individuals over the years that had experienced apparitions or heard the clanking of chains in homes.

Her whole plan, Francis explained, was to “meet a real ghost in a real haunted house.”  In so doing, she hoped that she might discover whether ghosts were white or grey, and what accounted for the spooky noises that accompanied their appearance.

The boarding house proprietor ended up receiving several offers from area residents willing to assist her with her quest.

A typical letter read:

“Regarding your advertisement for location of a haunted house, let me lead you to one in Stone Road. All the thrills and the chills can be obtained here. Meet me by appointment—midnight preferred.”

For whatever reason, call it fate, call it luck, call it karma, one local resident did seemingly come through for Mrs. Francis.

The D&C insinuated as much in an article published on August 20th, which inquired, “now that the modest-appearing Marshall Street woman has her haunted house, what is she going to do with it?”

As Mrs. Francis owned a boarding house, the reporter wryly opined that “perhaps there is to be a boom in haunted houses…if the demand grows, development experts will throw in a few ghosts with the clothes chute or sleeping porch, and abandoned cemeteries will bring top-notch prices when cut up into building lots.”

The newspaper did not reach the ghost hunter for comment on her paranormal experience. Perhaps it had a greater effect than she had anticipated…

Happy Halloween!

-Emily Morry

Published in: on October 30, 2018 at 2:46 pm  Leave a Comment